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A few minutes with music teacher Victor Sui

January 18, 2006

"A few minutes with" is a lighter look at a student who has been in the news.

Teaching credential student Victor Sui appeared on a November edition of "Good Morning America" with 11-year-old Tyler Thompson, who learned to sing beautiful, flawless Chinese opera from Sui. Thompson is one of Sui's students in a Chinese music program at Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland's Chinatown. Sui, an aspiring musician who hopes to one day expand his teaching résumé from age 6 to the college level, received his bachelor's degree in jazz piano at SFSU in 2003.

Favorite SFSU faculty member? Why?
Dr. [Wendell] Hanna. … She's been a tremendous help and probably has single-handedly helped me survive my first semester teaching music in a classroom. She is very helpful in getting kids interested in music and using music as a fun way of learning, and also in using music as other avenues toward other subjects. My other old professor, Dee Spencer -- she has single-handedly helped me fall in love with jazz.

Who are your heroes?
Trustworthy people. People who trust other people. I've always given people the benefit of the doubt. ... I'm appreciative of when other people also do the same.

What are your passions?
Of course, music is one of them. I love boxing. I see a lot of similarities between boxing and music. ... I did it [boxing] a little bit when I was young. I realized that you can't do music and boxing because your hands are involved in both. It's crucial to have your hands for music, and I kept getting injured.

What inspires you?
When I see a lot of the faculty here at San Francisco State who are teachers as well as performers, I find that very inspiring because a lot of the time, there's often those who can perform but who can't teach. But that's not really true, especially with people like Wendell Hanna or Dee Spencer. I'm inspired by the fact that they can do both.

How do you get to and from campus?
Let's see, sometimes by car, or a little method I call BMW: BART, MUNI, Walk.

What is the last movie you saw?
I think it was "Cinderella Man." It was decent. Being a boxing fan, I didn't really like the way they portrayed a lot of the fighters. They portrayed Max Baer as being the evil guy, and he's actually not that bad.

Name a guilty pleasure of yours.
I like Sour Patch Kids. When my students do well, I pass out candy, and I also eat some myself.

Other hobbies?
I love going to Shanghai. Lately, I've gone once or twice a year. ... It's like the New York City of China. Really crowded. There's like 13 million people. To me, it's a world-class city like Tokyo, Paris, London, New York, but it doesn't have the living expenses of all the others.

What person, dead or living, would you most like to meet?
Ray Charles. Even though I teach Chinese music, my favorite type of music is American music. To me, when I think of American music, I think of him more than anybody because he pretty much did every single type of American music there ever was. He did jazz, country, blues, gospel, R & B, pretty much everything. Popular music, Broadway.

What is the most important issue that faces college students today?
Finding a job. Well, let me rephrase that. Not just finding a job, but finding a career. I mean anybody can find a job, you know? Working at a coffee shop, or anything else, that's a job. But to find something that you really enjoy and you really want to do for a long time, that's a little bit harder.

What is the toughest thing about being you?
Sometimes when I'm alone, I wish there were other people around. But sometimes when there are people around, I wish I was alone. (laughs)

What is guaranteed to bring a smile to your day?
I'd say when people are polite to each other and kind to each other.

-- Student Writer Lisa Rau with Matt Itelson


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Last modified January 18, 2006 by University Communications